Turkish investment agency supported one-time al-Qaeda financier for energy projects

Ilker Ayci

Nordic Monitor

 

İlker Aycı, then-president of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) and current Turkish Airlines (THY) board chairman, facilitated the investments and private businesses of one-time al-Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi, confidential documents have revealed.

According to a wiretap authorized by a Turkish court as part of a corruption investigation in Turkey, Aycı, accompanied by then-ISPAT department head Abdulkerim Çay, met with al-Qadi in the private office of Cengiz Aktürk, who was also a suspect in the same investigation and a close associate of al-Qadi.

Secret documents obtained by Nordic Monitor reveal how al-Qadi was encouraged at the time by the Turkish government to bid in tenders for the privatization of thermal power plants. “We should be ready by the end of the year, then you can launch,” al-Qadi told Aycı, referring to the tender for the power plants. In response, Aycı said, “Alright, we will do our best [to assist]”. Aycı also asked al-Qadi to conclude preparations for the project before his presentation to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “Let’s complete our work as soon as possible and visit [Erdoğan] immediately,” Aycı said.

Aycı would remain chair of ISPAT until he was named chairman of the country’s national flag carrier, THY, in 2015. Aycı was involved in setting up the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) İstanbul office. He was also a consultant to Erdoğan during the latter’s term as mayor of İstanbul between 1994 and 1998.

Al-Qadi is an Egyptian-born Saudi national who was at one time flagged by the US Treasury and the UN al-Qaeda sanction committee. Al-Qadi was later removed from the UN list, followed by the US Treasury delisting his name.

 

The 29-page transcript of the secret wiretap of a conversation among İlker Aycı, Yasin al-Qadi, his son Muaz al-Qadi (Kadıoğlu), Cengiz Aktürk, Abdulkerim Çay and Hasan Pehlivan:

Yasin_al_Qadi_Ilker_Cayci_wiretap1

 

In a secret meeting that took place on the evening of August 18, 2013, Aycı informed al-Qadi of his scheduled meeting with the then-energy minister, Taner Yıldız, to discuss foreign investments in the energy sector. Aycı also said Erdoğan had instructed Yıldız not to interfere with foreign investments in energy sources and argued that ISPAT had become the main authority for dealing with foreign investors.

According to another wiretapped conversation, al-Qadi’s right-hand man, Osama Qutb, who was engaging in money laundering in Turkey on behalf of the Saudi businessman, was in close contact with Aktürk. In the conversation Aktürk and Qutb are heard discussing plans for money laundering by means of Aktürk’s companies. Aktürk, who owns cosmetics companies, tells Qutb that it was not possible to launder so much money with perfume and that they had to find another method.

“You mean the money has to be laundered. You can’t do that much money with perfume, I mean, it’s impossible… But here it will be alright. Perfume does not yield such serious returns. But here, you can at least show those figures as clear income… You know, there’s a degree to which you can turn in a written statement saying you bought this house with this income,” Aktürk told Qutb.

 

A secret meeting attended by Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi in Turkey.

 

Al-Qadi and Erdoğan’s son Bilal were leading suspects in an investigation into corruption pursued by prosecutors in Istanbul and were the subjects of detention warrants issued on December 25, 2013 by the prosecutors. However, Erdoğan stepped in, illegally preventing the execution of the warrants by ordering the police to ignore the prosecutor’s orders. After the removal of the prosecutors and police chiefs who were involved in the investigation, Erdoğan managed to whitewash the crimes of his associates.

Al-Qadi was not able to participate in the privatization of Turkish power plants due to the detention warrants. Instead of the Saudi businessman, Erdoğan preferred to sell the plants to companies close to him, including Bereket Enerji, the IC İctaş-Limak Consortium, the Ciner Group, Çelikler Holding and Konya Şeker.

The wiretap was authorized by the Istanbul 2nd High Criminal Court, which was looking into terrorism-related cases. The authorization was granted on August 19, 2013 as part of investigation file No. 2013/7296.

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